Fifty-plus women served the sailing communities on Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior, as well as on the Detroit River, for more than 100 years. From Catherine Shook, who raised eight children while maintaining the Pointe Aux Barques light at the entrance to Saginaw Bay; to Eliza Truckey, who assumed responsibility for the lighthouse in Marquette while her husband fought in the Civil War; to Elizabeth Van Riper Williams, whose combined service on Beaver Island and in Harbor Springs totaled forty-one years—the stories of Michigan’s “Ladies of the Lights” are inspiring.
This is no technical tome documenting the minutiae of Michigan’s lighthouse specifications. Rather, it’s a richly detailed portrait of the women who kept those lights, defying the gender expectations of their time.
Patricia Majher is editor of Michigan History magazine, published by the Historical Society of Michigan. Prior, she was assistant director of the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame in Lansing, Michigan. In addition, she has been a writer for more than thirty years and a frequent contributor to Michigan newspapers and magazines.